Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo

Color illustration edition

Children - Grade 4th-6th
64 Pages
Reviewed on 08/17/2019
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Author Biography

Award-winning children’s author, Cindy L. Shirley grew up in a small town in Cherokee County Georgia. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother of two adorable granddaughters. She loves working with children and has tons of hilarious stories to share with her readers.

In addition to being a former ASP teacher in the North Georgia school system, Mrs. Shirley is the founder of Let’s Pretend Parties and Let’s Pretend Publishing. She continues to work with children of all ages as a party planner, entertainer, and hostess. These adventures along with her personal experiences are the basis for her heartwarming children’s books: “Diesel the Body Guard: No Bullies Allowed", "Go-Cart Gertie", "Doodle and the Magic Christmas Float", "A Song for Birdie: A Child’s Journey with Autism", "Kitty Ballou’s Sanctuary Zoo", and the series of "The Fabulous Life of Minnie the Sassy Chick.”

Each beautifully illustrated book contains a valuable lesson that is ideal for elementary school-aged children. Her creative and fun-filled storylines are sure to make children everywhere laugh and smile.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo by Cindy L. Shirley, Kitty Ballou had been a supporter of animal welfare since childhood. While other girls were playing with dolls, Kitty was rescuing abandoned and neglected animals. When her ambition to become a veterinary surgeon was achieved, Kitty wasted no time in venturing out West to her late grandparents' ranch to start her very own veterinary practice. While visiting a local fair, she stumbles across an abandoned trailer and makes a shocking discovery. Inside the trailer, she finds six of the most amazing creatures, including a striped donkey, a giraffe with a trunk and a peacock with a long neck. When the owner of the trailer fails to appear, Kitty decides to take the neglected animals home and bring them back to health. It is then she discovers that the animals have more surprises in store for her. Kitty has an ambitious plan for these beautiful and talented animals but she needs to convince the people of the community to help.

The characters in this endearing story are beautifully developed and each has its own distinct personality, including Kitty's beloved dog, Barney. Kitty is an excellent role model for any child; she is caring, strong, but modest. Her optimism to achieve her selfless ambition is admirable. The whole storyline is engaging and continually moves forward, which keeps the attention of the reader. There are some very comical moments in the story, especially the 'kick the bucket' game. The relationship between Barney and Kitty was especially warming. She describes him as her best friend, and I think any child who loves animals would relate to this. The descriptive narrative is excellent and takes you into the world of Kitty and her desperation to help these wonderful animals. This story not only highlights the importance of animal welfare but also is a reminder not to judge anyone that seems different. The clever plot highlights the fact that you should never judge an exterior appearance because everyone has unique talents. The information regarding animal welfare organizations and the endangered animal species at the end was a great addition to this wonderful, thought-provoking story.

Jack Magnus

Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo is an animal story for children, grades 4-6, written by Cindy L. Shirley and illustrated by Cleoward Sy. Kitty Ballou always had a thing for animals. Even as a little girl, she eschewed playing with dollies in favor of rescuing and caring for injured or abandoned creatures. So, it was a natural progression for her to study veterinary medicine after college and become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. And now that she was a vet, she decided that it was time for her to open her own practice. Kitty’s grandparents had left her their ranch in their wills, and she decided it was the perfect place to set up her clinic.

Cindy L. Shirley’s Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo is a well-written and engaging animal fantasy story that will appeal to animal lovers of all ages. I liked how Shirley highlighted the all-too-common abuses and neglect of animals in circuses, fairs, and shows, and loved seeing how her young veterinarian gathered support in her new town to establish her sanctuary for the abandoned hybrid animals she discovers at the fair. The hybrids are marvelous, and the names she gives them are brilliant. Shirley’s plot is inspirational and compelling, and her characters are well-defined and authentic. Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo is most highly recommended.

Gisela Dixon

Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo is a short story for children. In this book, we meet Kitty Ballou, a spirited young woman who loves animals and is always willing to help them. She becomes a veterinary doctor and thinks this is the ideal opportunity to move to the ranch that her grandparents left her and practice her profession while helping animals on the open land. When Kitty reaches the town, she runs into an unexpected surprise when she sees a trailer with some abandoned animals in it. But that is not the only strange thing about this—the six animals themselves are of a kind she has never seen before and come with all sorts of strange colors and talents. She is intrigued and also a bit afraid but decides to care for them because they need help. However, things don’t end there as she realizes that each one is unique and trained and she sees an opportunity to help more animals and also help the community. How she plans this and turns this around forms the plot of the book. There is a list of resources provided at the end for helping animals and preventing cruelty to animals, along with a list of endangered animal species in the world.

Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo: Color illustration edition by Cindy L. Shirley is a lovely book with a great message. Abuse and neglect of animals are all too common worldwide, unfortunately, and a book like this spreads the message of kindness and compassion towards all creatures, including animals. What I also liked about the book was the idea of acceptance. Each of the animals that Kitty rescues is different or “abnormal” but instead of viewing this as something inferior, it is viewed as unique instead which is a lesson that is applicable towards everyone in the world. So I liked that the animals are not ordinary animals and the acceptance from society towards them is a great lesson for kids as well. Overall, this is a well-written book that I would recommend for children.